On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Falcons suffered a 64-53 loss to Michigan State at the Stroh Center. I promise I will take a closer look at the game very soon ... but first I'm going to address two items that have come up repeated in the last few hours.
- First, there was some booing when Michigan State scored just before the final buzzer. I will have comments from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in a moment, but first I want to set the scene.
Bowling Green got a layup from Jehvon Clarke on its last possession. The play-by-play shows the basket coming with 29 seconds left, but on television the clock above the basket shows 30.2 seconds left (as does the clock on the TV graphics).
Michigan State brings the ball downcourt, and Keith Appling appears content to run out the clock. The scoreboard above the basket the Spartans are shooting at does NOT have the shot-clock on, but Izzo looks at the other basket, then signals to Appling to take the ball to the basket. Appling does, and scores.
That's when the booing starts, and Izzo (on television) obviously takes time to explain something to BG coach Louis Orr during the post-game handshake line.
"The shot clock did not go off, and normally it does when there's no time left between the shot clock and the game clock," Izzo said afterwards. "You have to understand: at Michigan State we have a turnover problem, and I wasn't going to take one more turnover.
"I think a couple of their players were upset, but I don't think Louis was because he knows that's not what I do. So no big deal ... but I wanted to clarify that because it was important to me."
For those of you who are conspiracy theorists and think the basket brought the final margin to 11 points -- which, coincidentally, happened to be the line on the game: Please find a productive hobby.
- There were questions as to why Bowling Green did not have Jordon Crawford on the floor in the game's final minutes. Crawford left the game with 6:08 left to play and was replaced by Clarke ... and Crawford never returned to the floor.
Crawford finished the game with 10 points but was 4-for-14 from the field (28.6 percent), including 2-for-6 on 3's. Compare his numbers from the first half to the second half: In the first half Crawford was 2-for-7 and 2-for-3 with five assists and one turnover (in 15 minutes); in the second half the senior was 2-for-7 from the floor and 0-for-3 on 3's and had two assists and one turnover (in 11 minutes).
It was especially interesting to note what happened after the 10:29 mark, when a 3-pointer by Chauncey Orr tied the game at 45-45.
Next Bowling Green possession: Crawford missed a jumper, and MSU scored on its next possession. Next BG possession: three missed shots (one by Anthony Henderson, two by A'uston Calhoun), and MSU scored on its next possession. Next BG possession: Crawford missed a 3-pointer, and MSU scored on its next possession. Next BG possession: Crawford missed a layup in traffic, and MSU scored on its next possession.
To summarise: Crawford took (and missed) the only shot on three of four Falcon possessions, and the Spartans scored on four straight possessions. Clarke came in for Crawford with 6:08 left and the score 52-45 MSU, and that basically was the ball game.
Izzo was talking about his team's defense in those final 10 minutes, mentioned Crawford and suddenly said, "I give Louis credit: If guys aren't playing the way he wants them to, he takes them out."
Clarke, for the record, committed a foul that led to MSU's points in that fourth possession, but Clarke also broke the Falcons scoring skid by making two free throws. Full disclosure: Clarke had a turnover on the next possession and missed a layup on the possession that followed, so he wasn't great, either.
Not to pick on Crawford -- or Clarke, for that matter -- but it was a coaching decision that led to Crawford sitting for the game's final minutes.
UPDATE: Finally got a chance to go back to the press conference tape ... here is what coach Orr said about Crawford ...
"He's got a tough job, because he has been our first- or second-leading scorer, and we're asking him to run our team. He had seven assists and only two turnovers. ... He can't take it on all by himself. That is his nature: To say, 'I have to step up, and the way I step up is to make shots and to try and make plays. That's the balancing act. He's still growing in areas. We need him to score, but we need him to balance the two (scoring and running the offense) and make sure we get good possessions each time down (the floor)."